The Cambodian Hockey Federation is springing back to life after nearly four years of utter neglect and inaction.
A new set of officials headed by National Olympic Committee of Cambodia Secretary General Vath Chamroeun as the president assumed office last week, heralding a new phase of revival in the Kingdom that may lead to field hockey being restored to its rightful place.
“The federation was not just inactive, it lay in ruins, and now we have to start from scratch,” said Vath Chamrouen yesterday. “It may not be very popular in the public eye, but the game has enthusiastic following. It is an Olympic discipline and we are duty bound to revive it.”
Among the first tasks of the new administration is to enlist as head coach the services of long time Phnom Penh resident Rana Asif Maqsood, whose roots in Pakistan has made him a popular figure in the country’s hockey circles. Even during the federation’s dormant years, Rana - who is in his early 40s - kept the local interest alive by helping out several passionate players in his personal capacity as a coach.
“We have to find a suitable place in the city for our training, but our long term goal is to create a hockey facility with Astroturf,” he said. “We have to live with the changes the game has gone through. Turf or gravel are things of the past, and all over the world hockey is played on synthetic surfaces.”
Both the federation chief and the head coach conceded that it would be naive to think of a Cambodian national team taking part in an international event in the near future.
“We are still raw. It takes a long time for us to move up to that level of competition,” added Maqsood.
“Maybe if things go right from now on, we could possibly think of taking part in the next SEA Games in Myanmar 2013. It is still a long way. Our immediate aim is to set things right and ensure resumption of hockey activity.
Vath Chamrouen noted that the “most important first step” for the federation was to re-establish links with both the International Hockey Federation and the Asian Hockey Federation. The newly appointed CHF President will be heading to Malaysia on January 16 along with Maqsood to take part in the AHF’s annual general meeting.
Meanwhile, the federation has begun arrangements to host a friendly series next month at either the Olympic Stadium or Phnom Penh’s Old Stadium. Invitees include teams from Japan and Thailand as well as a veterans team from Pakistan involving several notable players who have retired from the game in the last couple of years.
Grass may not be a preferred choice in present day hockey, but the Cambodian head coach feels that there is no better surface than this for novices to learn the basics of the game.
The CHF is likely to launch a talent search over the next few days to form a core group of players who can get down to serious training in the run up to the forthcoming friendly series.